While Canberra’s reliance on private transport – 2016 Census data shows over 80% of journeys to work are made by private vehicle in the ACT – exists for numerous reasons, it’s largely due to the lack of a viable alternative for many in this sprawling city.
The ACT Government’s Moving Canberra: Integrated Transport Strategy draft document outlines their long-term plan to change that.
It sets out to shape the future of transport in the nation’s capital through to 2045 via a number of strategies to curb the car and encourage Canberrans to choose public or active transport.
With the highest car dependency of any Australian capital city, Canberra’s growing population will mean more cars on our roads and more congestion.
The Government’s proposed methods for transitioning the population away from private vehicles includes reducing the supply of parking and increasing parking fees, reducing speed limits in residential areas and further reducing speed limits around schools to encourage students to walk or ride.
To encourage more active and public transport, they propose a raft of changes, including: improvements to Bike & Ride, Park & Ride and public transport interchange facilities; improved bus infrastructure like more dedicated bus lanes, and increased services at peak and off-peak times; and construction of more light rail lines.
Shadow Transport Minister Candice Burch criticised the plan, saying it unfairly punishes Canberra drivers.
“The reality is, for the majority of Canberrans, such as families with young children, elderly people, shift workers and people running their own businesses, it is simply not possible or safe to walk, ride or catch public transport,” Ms Burch said.
She also criticised the plan for not prioritising road infrastructure and hitting drivers with increasing costs and penalties.
Ms Burch was also alarmed by cuts to dedicated school bus services, as they were placed last in the strategy’s student transport priority list.
“Many Canberra parents made it very clear that they do not want their children travelling on public buses or having to change at interchanges to get to and from school.
“Dedicated school bus services should be a priority for government if we want more children catching public transport.”
The ACT Government said their MyWay data shows almost 60% of school students who use the bus network to access school travel on the regular network.
They claim their new network will also provide Rapid or local services in close proximity to almost every government and non-government school in the ACT.
Moving Canberra: Integrated Transport Strategy is available online for community consultation until 8 March via yoursay.gov.au